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highly commended the zeal of this young monarch, and the exemplary punishment which he had inflicted on the heretics. It was no wonder, then, that the parliament of Paris decreed an annual procession on St. Bartholomew's day to offer up thanks to God, or that such was the savage fury of this nation, blinded by fanaticism, that they were not satisfied even with the death of Coligni, who fell with his brethren in that massacre, but ordered him to be executed afterwards in effigy.
In the midst of these calamities the throne of Poland became vacant, and the duke of Anjou was chosen king by the assembled states of the kingdom. He accepted the honours conferred on him with some reluctance, and had but just taken possession of his kingdom when he was called to that of France, by the sudden death of his brother, the execrable Charles IX. He set out for Paris without hesitation, and left the Poles, indignant at his departure, to choose for themselves another sovereign. France, at this time, exhibited a very extraordinary scene; a court involved in every species of luxury and debauchery, and a kingdom groaning under all the miseries which two factions could occasion, exasperated against each other be yond hope of reconcilation. Henry III., the new monarch, neither knew how to keep the protestants within due bounds, nor to content the catholics. He had neither abilities to manage his finances, nor to discipline his army. His debaucheries formed an extraordinary contrast to the superstition of his character, and both brought him into universal contempt. The duke of Guise obtained from him the command of his armies,
and it was the interest of this prince to increase the confusions of the kingdom, that the court might always stand in need of his assistance.
In the mean time, young Henry of Navarre, brother-in-law to the French monarch, a youth of a noble spirit, who had escaped from the massacre of St. Bartholomew by going to mass with the catholics, had retired to the province of Guienne. The prince of Condé, the head of the protestants, had invited the Germans into Champagne, and their party was joined by the duke of Anjou, the king's brother. The abject monarch, terrified by this association, concluded a treaty with the protestants, which exasperated his catholic subjects, while it served only to give vigour and spirits to the opposite party. It was this treaty which determined the catholics to form themselves into a league, of which the pretext was the defence of religion, of the king, and of the liberty of the state. They pitched upon the duke of Guise for their leader, who equalled his father in abilities, and was a man of yet greater ambition. The league was
solemnly signed at Peronne, and acceded to through the whole of the province of Picardy. The other provinces very soon concurred. The king, who now, with some justice, apprehended more danger from this association, nominally formed for his defence, than from all the designs of the protestants, thought to perform a masterly stroke of policy by signing the league himself, which he imagined would give him the absolute command of the party. But he was mistaken. He wished for peace that he might have the enjoyment of his pleasures, but the catholic and protestant con
federacies waged war against each other, in spite of him. His brother-in-law Henry, the young king of Navarre, commiserating the misfortunes of France, which he probably foresaw would one day be his own kingdom, wrote to Henry III., painted to him in the strongest colours the mischiefs that attended that armed association, and generously offered his fortune and his life for his protection and defence; but Henry III. was weak enough to listen rather to the pope's bull, which stigmatised the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé as heretics. He rejected the offers of his brotherin-law, continued the persecution of the protestants, and thus aided the duke of Guise in his scheme to dispossess him of his kingdom. He saw his error when it was too late, and was obliged to solicit that assistance which he had rejected when offered. He had disgraced himself by acts of the most impolitic cruelty, and, unable to crush the schemes of the duke of Guise by a manly resistance and vigorous exertions of authority, he meanly employed assassins to murder that prince, and his brother the cardinal of Lorraine, in the castle of Blois. This cruel and dissolute tyrant continued to reign for fifteen years. His kingdom was at length delivered from him by the hand of a fanatic enthusiast. Jacques Clement, a jacobin monk, actuated by the belief that he was doing an act of consummate piety, insinuated himself into the palace, and stabbed the king with a knife in the belly. The assassin was put to death on the spot by the king's guards, and Henry died in a few days of the wound.
As the succeeding monarch of France had begun
before this time to display his illustrious talents, I shall give a short, uninterrupted sketch of his memorable life.
Henry of Navarre, the first of the house of Bourbon who sat on the throne of France, was descended, in a direct male line, from Robert count of Clermont and lord of Bourbon, the sixth son of Louis IX., surnamed Saint Louis. His mother was Jane d'Albret, daughter of Henry d'Albret, king of Navarre. Attached to the party of the Calvinists, she had educated her son in the same principles, and from those talents which he very soon began to display, the party of the Hugonots in France looked up to him as the great support of their interest. In 1569, being at that time only sixteen years of age, he was declared, at Rochelle, chief of the Hugonot party; and the prince of Condé his uncle, with the admiral Coligni, were named to act under him as his lieutenants. They were unsuccessful at the battle of Jarnac, where Condé lost his life, and likewise in the succeeding engagement at Moncontour. In the following year Charles IX. made peace with the protestant party, in the diabolical view of accomplishing by treachery what he found himself unequal to achieve by his arms. To prove the sincerity of his reconciliation with the Hugonot chiefs, he invited young Henry of Navarre to Paris, and bestowed upon him his sister Margaret of Valois in marriage. The party thus lulled asleep, the barbarous monarch attempted, as we have seen, to extinguish them by a single blow, and in the horrible eve of St. Bartholomew about 100,000 fell by the sword.
Henry of Navarre, saved from this massacre of his party by declaring himself a catholic, remained, after this event, about three years a prisoner. After the death of Charles IX., having found means to escape to Alençon, in the year 1576, he put himself once more at the head of the protestants. The conduct of the party we have already seen during the reign of Henry III. This monarch, on his death-bed, had acknowledged Henry of Navarre the lawful heir to the crown. Three sons of Henry II. had now reigned consecutively; and, having no children, Henry of Navarre, descended from Louis IX., was indeed the first prince of the blood, and consequently the nearest in succession to the throne. But he had to combat the formidable opposition of The League, who chose for their sovereign the cardinal of Bourbon, Vendome. The pope was of necessity Henry's enemy; and Philip II. of Spain encouraged his son-in-law the duke of Savoy to invade Dauphiné and Provence. Henry had nothing to support him but the justice of his cause, his own courage, and the zeal of his small party. The first successful effort of his arms was at Arques, in the neighbourhood of Dieppe, where with 5000 men he defeated the army of the league under the duke of Mayenne, consisting of 25,000 men. His numbers now increased to 10,000, and he defeated Mayenne a second time, in the celebrated battle of Ivry. He pursued his advantages, and marched directly to Paris. This city, which was strongly in the interest of the league, made a most obstinate resistance; but the Parisians would have been compelled by